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New HBO Series Takes A Gritty Look At Addiction

If you’ve been paying attention to local billboards and YouTube ads, then you’re probably aware of the new high-profile HBO series Euphoria. Co-produced by superstar rapper Drake, it is actually based on an Israeli series and tackles the topic of addiction from a teenage perspective.

Former Disney star Zendaya headlines the show, portraying a 17-year-old recovering addict named Rue. In the first episode, the audience discovers that she has recently been released from a rehab facility and is continuing to struggle with the constant threat of temptation.

There is no doubt that the tone is gritty (with Variety even dubbing it “unsettling”) and with the unrated freedom of HBO, Euphoria can easily go into some dark and honest places. In the pilot alone, we discover that Rue suffered a near fatal overdose and has not let go of her demons.

So far, two episodes have aired. The first openly showed Rue scoring pills and cocaine almost immediately after leaving her recovery program. The second, brought the synthetic opioid fentanyl front-and-center. As you’re probably aware, this is an extremely timely reference, as this drug is at the center of the country’s addiction crisis and one of the primary reasons for the high rate of national overdoses.

People have taken both sides with the way HBO is documenting this lifestyle. On the one hand, Euphoria has been praised for honestly portraying the addiction struggles of modern teens. On the other, though, it has been criticized for glorifying drug use and adding a touch of chic glamour to the situation.

Series producer Sam Levinson has addressed the situation head on, staunchly defending his latest project and calling out the crisis that is plaguing America.

“I’m very cognizant of how [addiction] is portrayed on-screen,” Levinson told the news site “There’s always that fine line [between] what’s glamorizing versus what’s being honest about it. People don’t get addicted to drugs because they’re not exciting or they don’t fulfill some sort of missing piece. Then they will destroy your life, and they’ll destroy your family and everything around you that you love and care about. I didn’t want to pull any punches with it. I think people could smell the bullshit when it’s like a preachy after-school special.”

We, for one, were impressed with the series and do think it’s worth watching. Keep in mind, though, that it can be graphic at times. But the truth of the matter is, the world of addiction is not a pretty place.